Chennai: The Indian government has been doing many… many things off-late to increase safety on roads. With India holding the not so prestigious award for being the accident capital of the world, it is right they do that.
There are the obvious things like anti-lock braking system (ABS), airbags and other safety-related things that people understand, until one asks them to show the active and passive safety systems in their vehicle.
Then there are things that people just accept and not bother thinking about and chief among those things is the daytime running lights or DRLs in normal speak.
When the government mandated it last year, the auto industry immediately came up with different solutions, some ingenious and some utterly ghastly.
But crucially, one has to understand why the government mandated it in the first place. The work of the DRLs is to increase chances of a vehicle being spot at all times, because accidents have happened in the thousands where two vehicles have met in a head-on collision because they could not see the other coming.
Of course, nature completely conspires against motorists by changing its mind every four months, if you know what I mean. Volvo were the forerunners in bringing the technology back in the noughties, as they always are with car technology. Audi, then decided to make the technology better.
The reckoned that Volvo’s DRLs sapped more energy from the battery because the headlamps were on, much like those in India at the moment. It was a good theory, until, Volvo was asked how much energy is being sapped by the headlamps due to the tech. The Swedes simply went to the drawing board, did some calculations and said it is such a small amount that we can’t quantify it. Audi had decided to halve that number in typical German fashion!
But that is then and this is now. In India, we do things differently. Manufacturers of many two-wheelers simply took away the off switch of the headlamp and met the government standards. This led to a problem for the consumers, which obviously was not addressed by the lawmakers.
You see, because the lights were always on, either the bulbs went bust or potentially the battery went dry faster on many a motorcycle. So, people had to shell out more to maintain their vehicles.
In cars, the situation is different because they use LEDs for the DRLs and because a typical car battery weighs as much as a teenager, it does not get affected as much. The technology is coming to bikes too. But manufacturers, instead of installing a strip of LED bulbs, in some cases just turned the entire headlamp unit to LEDs, which again, are costly to replace when they hit their due date. Disadvantage end-user once again.
Bikes were supposed to be cheap modes of transport and I think I know what the government is doing. In their pursuit to make people buy electric vehicles, they are making bikes costlier, so that people will buy the other option.
However, they forgot the fact that people will always stick to the affordable option, because money is earned by hard means and does not sprout from trees.